Stary Browar was built on the premises of the former Hugger Brewery – the real estate that is over one hundred years old. Its origins go back to the year 1844 when Ambrosius Hugger – a brewer from Wirtemberg (Württemberg) – arrived to Poznań.
Early 19th century.
In 1844 Ambrosius Hugger, a German brewer from the Schwarzwald, opened his first plant in Poznań at Wroniecka Street. Back then, brewing became a profitable business and soon the second brewery was opened at Św. Wojciech Street (1849). This was a breakthrough period in brewing industry. In the Czech town of Pilsen the brewers managed to reduce the temperature of fermentation from 20ºC to approx. 10ºC and produced the first golden, clear and strongly frothing Pils. Due to the automation of production, small brewing plants started to lose their popularity and a new era of industrial breweries dawned. Julius and Alfons – the sons of Ambrosius Hugger – launched a large-scale investment project.
On the plot of land situated on the corner of Półwiejska Street and a street extending from the Wilda Gate, along the city fortifications near the Grolman Fort, the Hugger brothers bought and insured a refrigerating plant, and then two houses and a backhouse. Here is where the Hugger Brewery was about to be built.
A Brewhouse, a Malthouse and a Drying house with a characteristic chimney were built in the round arch style (German Rundbogenstil), typical for the industrial construction of these days, including elevations made of red face brick, semicircular windows and simple decorations made of brick.
1895 — 1921
The Hugger Brewery was transformed into a joint stock company. An office building and a cooper’s workshop (1905) as well as a new chimney were built around the courtyard. In 1918 the Brewery produced nearly 72 000 hectoliters of beer for three brands: ”Kryształ” – Pilsen-style lager; “Specjał” – dark, Munich-style beer and Porter.
The Twenties and the Thirties of the previous Century
The Brewery was taken over by Roman May Chemical Company; then, two years before World War II, it was bought by the Restaurateur Union – a company of 82 shareholders.
World War II
In September 1939 the Brewery became German property. Beer production was continued until 1944, but towards the end of the War, the Germans turned the cellars and basements of the Brewery into bunkers and shelters. During the battle of Poznań, the Brewery suffered considerable damage.
After World War II
The Brewery was taken over by the Brewing Company and the enterprise was nationalized, yet the methods of production had not been changed.
For many years, malting was still a manual process. Soaked grain was ploughed with a special shovel and dug with a wooden spade (the symbols of the brewing guild), in order to let some oxygen in and initiate the process of germination. During the process of drying the grain, the dark smokes filled Półwiejska Street. This was one of the reasons for closing down the Brewery in 1980 (when the Poznań hotel was built).
Next to the Malthouse, the Brewhouse was located. Unlike the present-day technologies, in the 1970s beer was brewed over a naked flame and when the beer was boiling over, buckets of water had to be poured over the flames.
Three-storey cellars used to be located where the Piotr i Paweł delicatessen is now to be found. Beer was left to mature at the bottom level, whereas the two upper levels were allocated to the fermenting house. There were perfect communication possibilities between the cellars and offices, ensured by a pipe running through all storeys. Anyone who wanted to communicate with people working on a different ground had to approach the pipe, ring the bell and call the requested interlocutor. However, one had to be very careful on April Fools’ Day, as those working on the upper levels would always pour water down the pipe straight into the ears of those working below.
After the Brewery was closed down, the buildings went into ruin. Until the year 1997 the Brewery housed a plant producing carbonated drinks.
Fortis Sp. z o.o., owned by Grażyna Kulczyk, purchased the property of the Brewery from Lech Browary Wielkopolskie. Having acquired the neighbouring plots from the Military Property Agency and private owners, Fortis launched the “Stary Browar” Business and Art Centre project, planned to be completed towards the end of 2003.
1999 - 2002
The whole area was cleaned up and made available to theatres. “Corolianus”, a drama written by William Shakespeare, telling a story of a popular revolution in Rome, was the first performance staged here in 1999 by the Helena Modrzejewska Theatre from Legnica.
A one year later, a gang of motorcyclists appeared in a night bar located in the destroyed factory buildings, where shady deals were made. This is how a modern version of George Bizet’s “Carmen”, prepared by the artists of the Poznań Teatr Wielki opera house started on the 9th of July 2000. A controversial show, having a considerable asset in the form of costumes and crowd scenes, aroused curiosity and showed the potential offered by the spaces of the Stary Browar used for artistic performances. Therefore, we did not have to wait long for another first night.
On Midsummer Night of the year 2001, among mist, lightning and thunder, the gloomy factory walls in the very heart of Poznań came under the dominion of witches, ghosts and black and white magic. ”Macbeth” by Giuseppe Verdi, produced by the well-known artist, Krzysztof Jasiński, with fabulous costumes by Ryszard Kaja, owed its success largely to the special atmosphere of the place. The performance in Stary Browar was transmitted live on Channel 2 of Polish TV and could thus be seen all around Poland.
Another summer premiere – “Rigoletto” by G. Verdi, performed in the park surrounding Stary Browar, turned out to be a wonderful show. Teresa Dorożała – a reviewer in the “Gazeta Wyborcza” daily, mentioned e.g. the “unique atmosphere”, “the play of lights on trees” and “a more special, closer and stronger union between the actors and spectators, totally different from what you can encounter in a theatre building”.
The construction of the first stage of Stary Browar was launched.
5th of November 2003
The Atrium – the commercial section of Stary Browar, with over one hundred shops, restaurants and offices, opened its doors on the 5th of November 2003. Apart from celebrities, artists and politicians, 40 thousand inhabitants of Poznań witnessed this event. Igor Mitoraj’s sculpture “Moonlight” was placed in the main hall, and the columns supporting the structure were painted in stripes by the well-known artist Leon Tarasiewicz. Customers and tourists visiting Stary Browar had no doubt that this place was much more than just a shopping centre. Right from the start, Stary Browar, as one of the 20 buildings erected after 1989, joined the exhibition “Poland. Icons of Architecture”.
29th of April 2004
The opening of the Courtyard of Art was joined with the exhibition of Alessandro Mendini’ works of art. The exhibition, organised in cooperation with the National Museum in Poznań, was held under the patronage of the Foundation of Grażyna and Jan Kulczyk. Two months later, the “Art Poznań” art fair was held in Stary Browar. The Foundation was the patron of these significant national events. The mission of the Foundation is to develop sensitivity through art and raise the creative potential of people who are open and young at heart, as well as to support activities promoting the work of contemporary artists.
9th of December 2005
Already awarded the title of the best shopping centre in Europe, on the 9th of December 2005 Stary Browar was awarded the title of world’s best shopping centre in the category of medium-sized shopping centres (by the International Council of Shopping Centers). Apart from the architecture, the jury appreciated the unique combination of cultural activity and commerce (the idea 50 50)
11th of March 2007
The opening of the extension of Stary Browar – the Arcade. The Courtyard of Art has been renovated and now can be used all year long.
April and December 2008
Stary Browar was awarded the title of the best shopping centre - first in Europe, and later in the world, this time in the category Extension. The International Council of Shopping Centers appreciated the designers’ and the architects’ consequence. Stary Browar was acclaimed as the most beautiful on the world!
Art & Fashion Festival, held in Stary Browar for the second time, was awarded the title of the Excellence of Fashion as the Most Important Fashion Event in the year 2008 (by Twój Styl).
Stary Browar was acclaimed as one of the most trendy places in Poland. The jury appreciated its beautiful interiors, original design, professional staff and unique atmosphere.
studies by A. Dolczewska and dr inż. T. Kaczmarek were used